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Sittingbourne: Arriva pulls Great Easthall service after cars illegally use bus lane, off Oak Road, as rat-run

A bus firm has cut its service to a Sittingbourne housing estate because of the dangers posed by cars illegally using a bus-only lane as a rat-run.

Arriva announced, on Wednesday, its buses would no longer use the bus-only route that links the Great Easthall estate to Oak Road.

Oliver Monahan, area managing director for Arriva Kent and Surrey, said: “Unfortunately, with immediate effect, we have had to temporarily stop serving the stops on Great Easthall Way and Mulberry Way on the 349 service in Sittingbourne.

Kenneth Bodkin at the bus lane at the junction of Oak Road, Murston. Picture: Chris Davey
Kenneth Bodkin at the bus lane at the junction of Oak Road, Murston. Picture: Chris Davey

“This is because of the significant dangers posed by cars illegally using the bus-only lane at Great Easthall, running the risk of a head-on collision between a car and a bus on the single lane bus lane.”

He added: “We’re currently working with the relevant authorities to resolve the issue and are keen to start serving the stops again once it is safe to do so.”

Instead, Arriva said, buses will terminate using Portland Road, Broom Road and restart their journey towards Sittingbourne from Oak Road.

The sudden news shocked those living on and around the estate.

Kenneth Bodkin, who has lived in Blythe Close for 30 years, said the bus lane off Oak Road had become a rat-run.

“It’s so dangerous. Someone’s going to get killed soon,” The 70-year-old added.

“What’s happening now is that the general public, and the elderly of Murston, are being penalised for the idiots that are breaking the law.”

Mr Bodkin did, however, say he could see why drivers were using the bus lane as a cut through.

The bus lane at the junction of Oak Road, Murston. Picture: Chris Davey
The bus lane at the junction of Oak Road, Murston. Picture: Chris Davey

He said the reason why they were using it was because they only have one way in and out of the estate as the Northern Relief Road – which would have linked to the A2 at Bapchild – has never been built despite numerous promises.

“I’m 100% behind them, there needs to be a link road,” Mr Bodkin said. “The onus lies with the authorities. Something needs to be done.”

When asked what he thought was needed, he said: “It needs any legal means of restricting non-bus traffic.

“Perhaps put ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras on the lane.

“We need it to be policed, people being fined and for it to stopped being used illegally.”

Ashley Wise, Labour's spokesman in Murston, said there must be a solution.

"Great East Hall has only one route on and off the estate, which makes it a hostage to congestion," he said.

"The decision by Arriva is abrupt.

"There must be a solution to this problem. I hope this service is soon re-instated."


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